This "hands-on" is in the form of what we call a personal testimony.
この「ハンズオン」は、個人の証という形に作って行きます。

My personal ideas and interpretations.
個人の発想と解釈です。

I hope it's useful. If not, I hope you'll forgive me for wasting your time.

お役立つ物ならば、うれしく存じます。そうでなければ、あなたの時間を無駄に費やしてしまって、申し訳ございません。

Monday, November 23, 2015

Scripture-a-Week: Greed, and Counseling the Lord

It has been more than a week, and I'm not faced with any burning questions, but this seems related to things that are happening.

Which does the Lord come down harder on?

Rich people who don't share what they have?

Is what you have really not enough?

Poor people who are greedy for things they don't have?

Is what you have really not enough?

People who think they know more than God?

Is what you are doing with what you have pleasing to God?

Are these things related?

Is material success really all that meaningful?

What do you think?

Should you really take pride in success?

What should we do, if neither poverty nor riches save us?

Which is more important, looking cool or really helping other people? Can you do both? Should you go out of your way to try to both?

The scriptures I'm seeing as related here are

Doctrine and Covenants 56: ca v 14-17

and Jacob 2: ca 13-21.

Oh, and Luke 6: ca 24-38.

And it's worth reading before and after, of course. 





Saturday, October 31, 2015

Scripture-a-Week: Whom Should We Fear?

Matthew 10: 28 --
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Wait.

Are we supposed to fear the devil? Why does this other scripture (Deuteronomy 4: 10) say,
... I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth,...
That's not the devil speaking there, that's God.

Wait, why are we supposed to be afraid of God, even?

Hebrews 12: 28 is worth a thought.
... let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
Godly fear. What is that? What does it have to do with reverence?

What do you do when you are afraid? Do you panic? Behave like the proverbial deer in the headlights and freeze? Become hysterical or otherwise lose your sense of reason, perspective, and self?

When psychologists talk about responses to stress and fear, you often hear the expression
fight or flight.
I don't think this is godly fear at all. The 34th Psalm is pretty explicit:
4: I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
...
8: O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
9: O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.
Let's look in a dictionary. In the middle of all this stuff about distress and anxiety, we see words like awe and respect. I linked the LDS sripture helps entry on fear above (and here).

I think godly fear is like godly sorrow, it moves us to do good things (2 Corinthians 7: 10). And, more than just motivating us to do good things, it teaches us to have confidence when we stand before God.
... perfect love casteth out fear ... (1 John 4: 16-19)
So, let's look back at some verses around Matthew 10: 28.
29: Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
...
31: Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
By the way, what kind of power does the devil have?
... Why will ye yield yourselves unto him that he may have power over you, to blind your eyes, that ye will not understand the words which are spoken, according to their truth?  (Alma 10: 25.)
If we don't believe the devil's lies, what kind of power does he have over us?

Is the devil actually able to destroy the soul in hell? The way I read the book of Job, he is not even able to start causing us trials and problems without permission from God. (Job 2: 2-7.) And, if we continue to fear God more than man or the devil, God helps us. It can be kind of painful, but he takes care of us at the end. (Job 42: 10, 12.)

Can we trust God? I think we can -- far more than we can trust human teachers, coaches, family, friends, enemies, whatever.

I admit, I sometimes complain when life gets hard, but I think I can trust Him. He doesn't give me exactly what I think I want when I think I want it, but, like two troubadours said,
... if you try sometimes, you get what you need.
(Yeah, I listen to the Stones, too, sometimes. Owl City, too.)

We don't need to fear the devil, just understand that he will try to decieve us, and tempt us to do things that will not make us happy in the end.

People aren't perfect, and we let each other down sometimes. We don't need to fear people, either. We should try to understand them, instead.

God can be scary sometimes, but I think He is much more dependable than the alternatives. If our fear of God moves us to understanding ourselves, what we are and what we can be, we do not have to be afraid of Him.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
We love him, because he first loved us. (1 John 4: 18-19.)
If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8: 31, 32.)



Sunday, October 25, 2015

Scripture-a-Week

Jesus instructed the unbelieving Jews:
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. (John 5: 39)
He also used the scriptures when teaching His chosen disciples:
  And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
  Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
  And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
  And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Luke 24: 44-47)
From the Book of Mormon, Nephi tells us how important he thinks the scriptures are:
And upon these I write the things of my soul, and many of the scriptures which are engraven upon the plates of brass. For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and the profit of my children. (2 Nephi 4: 15)
The leaders of the Church also tell us regularly about the importance of scripture. For instance, in the last general conference, Devin Durrant talked about one method of getting oneself deeper into scripture study:

First, choose a verse of scripture each week and place it where you will see it every day.
Second, read or think of the verse several times each day and ponder the meaning of its words and key phrases throughout the week. (Sunday afternoon, Octobr 4th)
These are just a sampling of scriptures that talk about the immportance of studying and understanding the scriptures.

Sort-of-in-the-spirit of Br. Durrant's scripture-a-week suggestion, my wife suggested we start talking about a scripture each week as a family. And I'm thinking I'll blog some of them.

This is the first.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Ch. 0.2: Foundation -- Repentance

It's easy to get lost in arguments about whether faith should be active or passive. (See James, chapter 2, start with verse 18.)

Or to waste time idly discussing how far one can take the philosophical concept that there is nothing so constant as change. (See the 102nd Psalm, around verse 26, and also  Isaiah 51: 6, or where Nephi quotes that in the 2nd book of Nephi chapter 8, verse 6.)

Some people get stuck in the rut of thinking that repentance is for the unbelievers. (If you are inclined to think so, see 2nd Nephi ch. 30, starting from verse 1. If that doesn't convince you, try the 6th Chapter of Moses, in the Pearl of Great Price, around verse 50.) 

They say that the word in the Greek New Testament source texts which we translate as "repentance" is "metanoia", the "great change". That reminds me of the "mighty change of heart" talked about in Alma 5: 14.

So, what exactly is this repentance thing that Jesus and his followers preach?

In the Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, section 58, verse 43, we find that a person who repents of his or her sins will confess those sins and give them up.

To whom should one confess? Matthew 5: 23, 24 gives us a clue, and Jesus repeated that to His disciples in ancient America, recorded in the 3rd Nephi 12:23, 24.

What if we think someone has offended us? Similar clues are available in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 42, verse 88.

There is a pattern here.

Repenting requires us to understand, to some extent, the nature of our offence. What have we done wrong? Whom have we offended?

We cannot repent if we refuse to believe we have really done something wrong, and we can't repent if we refuse to understand how and why it was wrong. That means we have to talk with the people that we have sinned against and be reconciled to them.

And we have to change our ways.

Members of this Church talk about steps of repentance. Elder Richard G. Scott, addressing the entire Church, summarized the steps this way:
recognition, sorrow, abandonment [of the sin], confession, and restitution
(in a conference address titled, "The Path to Peace and Joy", October 2010, down at the 11th paragraph, if I counted that right).

And the ultimate goal is to be reconciled to God, as described in 2nd Nephi 10: 23, 24.

The ultimate goal, again, is to be reconciled with God.

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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Ch. 0.1: Foundation -- Faith in Jesus Christ

If you go looking for the meaning of the name, "Jesus", you find that it is cognitive of the name, "Joshua": "God is help."

Now, some people translate that as "God is our help." I suppose that is not exactly wrong, but we have to be very careful about how we read "our".

It is true that, before His death and resurrection, He often said that He was sent to the Jews. But that didn't stop Greeks and Samaritans from believing, nor from receiving the benefits of faith.

And He was explicit to His apostles that they were called to take the Gospel to all the world.

The Book of Mormon tells us more. He explained to His followers in the Americas, after His resurrection, that the "other sheep of His fold" (John 10: 16) which He went to visit were not just those who heard His voice in the Americas (3rd Nephi 15: 21, 22), but His believers all over the world (3rd Nephi 16: 1-5).

And, if you continue reading the references I've linked in here, you find that He tells the believers that the non-believers are to be taught by the believers, especially by example (Matthew 5:16 or 3rd Nephi 12: 16).

I can provide some scriptures that indicate that ancient Israel was under the same obligation. The warning voice mentioned so often is not that the chosen people are coming and everyone better just give up or you'll got the snot beaten out of you.

Read Jonah carefully, for starters. Jonah's message is not that Nineveh is going to be destroyed. Jonah was himself displeased that it was not. But the king of Nineveh understood the message and convinced his people to change their ways, and Nineveh averted the destruction they had been inviting upon themselves by their wickedness.

That was what God wanted, that the people of Nineveh should be saved as long as they were willing to follow moral law.

Likewise, read Ezekiel 33. Those who believe and exercise faith to change their lives in keeping with God's moral laws are saved.

God helps everyone who is willing to believe in Him.

God is help.

And the first principle of the Gospel is to believe in the Son of God, who was sent to us to show us quite plainly that God helps us through our belief.

Some might call this a vicious cycle. You have to believe to be a believer.

I call it a beneficent cycle. We believe, we have faith, our faith moves us, and God strengthens our faith, gives us more reason to believe.

But we do have to believe things that are true. Yeah, it seems obvious, but apparently it has to be said: Belief in things that are not true doesn't really save us.

What should we believe, then? The sermon on the mount (starting from Matthew 5) is one place to start.

But all the scriptures testify of Jesus Christ, which is why it is good to read all the scriptures, a little at a time, and think about them, and ask God for understanding and direction and help in applying what we learn from them.

But the very first thing is to believe that God is really on your side, to believe on the name of His Son, Jesus Christ.

(I explain a little about why we can believe in Jesus here.)

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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Trivia: How Was Jesus Perfect?

I suppose I may be the only one who thinks this worth commenting on, but Jesus was not perfect the way the people around him wanted him to be perfect.

To the religious leaders, He was the exact opposite of what they wanted in a messiah. They wanted validation of their excessively detailed versions of the law of Moses, and the social structures and authority that they had built on top of those detailed versions of law.

To those among the Jews and their friends who hoped for a repeat of David's political kingdom, again, he was anything but perfect: too willing to let the things of Caesar be Caesar's, too focused on individual freedom and responsibility. And what did repentance and faith have to do with revolution and war?

To the impressario, the Iscariot, He was too casual about money and too willing to let publicity take a back seat.

To His mother and His assigned guardian, Joseph, He was often too casual about artificial schedules and social expectations.

We only have unsubstantiated and misreported or even mistaken tradition to tell us about how his childhood friends and playmates might have viewed him, but, from their reactions as His miracles and preaching became well know, we can tell that His childhood did not force them to believe that He was superhuman or such.

And so forth.

He often told his followers, supporters, detractors, friends, and family that He would only do what the Father showed Him. That was what He did perfectly.

Bends your mind.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Trivia: They Neither Marry Nor Are Given in Marriage

This probably belongs under "Trivia", and, if I am not careful, under "Gratuitous and Unnecessary Explanation".

Some have raised questions about Mormon beliefs concerning the eternal nature of the family, citing Jesus' response to a riddle presented by the Sadducees, recorded in Matthew 22: 23 - 33, Mark 12: 18 - 28, and Luke 20: 27 - 39.

The object of the Sadducees was to paint Jesus into a doctrinal corner and get Him to discredit Himself. Their tool was a dilemma they apparently thought had no answer (and we might guess was part of their arsenal in their arguing with doctrines of resurrection).

Jesus' answer is often interpreted as meaning that the state of being married does not apply to angels and resurrected beings, and, by extrapolation, to anyone who has passed through the veil of death.

But that is not what the dilemma they presented was, and it is not what Jesus says.

The question was, "Which of the brothers gets the girl in the resurrection?" (And we might assume they would be happy to say that there there were no children, and there would be no other clear reason to pick one brother over another.)

And then, would they try to beg the question of the wisdom of a resurrection that would provide such a dilemma? Or did they have some other pile of wrong assumptions to work?

Well, it doesn't matter. They wanted to push Jesus into picking one. And then they intended to say, "Well, here are all the reasons that is wrong! And you are a false prophet!"

The dilemma is a juxtaposition of three items of policy, principle, and tradition:
  1. The policy of seeing that widows are taken care of by requiring near relatives to take responsibility of providing for them (refer to Ruth and Boaz as an example);
  2. the principle of resurrection, which the Sadducees rejected (and Jesus told them plainly they were wrong in doing so);
  3. and the (false, by the way) tradition of dependent family members being in a relationship of chattel.
Jesus first tells them, "You guys are confused because you refuse to understand the scriptures." (Or words to that effect.)

Then He tells them getting married, or being given in marriage, is something we do in this world, not in the spirit world, nor in the resurrection.

And He throws in a bit of extra information before He points out that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the God of the living, not of the dead:

Resurrected humans are equal to angels in some important ways.

But He does not say that marriages are dissolved at either death or resurrection. Only that the woman would not be given in marriage to anyone in the resurrection.

And He says that they would be resurrected.

Now, concerning what Mormons teach on this subject, we talk about "sealing" family relationships for the eternities. We are not giving people in marriage through this principle.

The marriage happens in this world. We can be sealed in this world, and we can do proxy work in this world for those who are no longer in this world.

But the sealing does not force anything. It asks for God's blessings, and it is up to us to receive those blessings through the things we choose to do and believe.

Or to refuse those blessings by our beliefs and actions.


Like so much about us humans, all that we can do to make a good marriage relationship is not enough to keep the relationship viable as we cross the boundary from this world to the next. We need extra help, and these sealings are the way God has provided to help us.

The marriage relationship is what we do here and now. Whether it extends beyond death and resurrection is also dependent on what we do here and now.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ch. 0: The Sure Foundation

A question that concerns many who hear that we believe in continuing revelation (See the ninth Article of Faith.) is how we avoid going astray. "If truth can change, who is safe?" or some similar concern.

Truth doesn't change.

That doesn't mean that our understanding is perfect from the outset. Of course our understanding is going to change somewhat as our faith grows.

So we need a solid foundation.

One of the many teachings that are found in both The Holy Bible and The Book of Mormon is the metaphor of the house built on the rock, as in Matthew 7: 24, 25 and 3 Nephi 14: 24-25.

These are from the teachings we call the Sermon on the Mount, and the comparable teachings Jesus gave in the Americas after his resurrection. Collectively, these teachings form a good touchstone.

If we find a doctrine that conflicts with these teachings, we can be fairly confident that either it is wrong, or our understanding of that doctrine is wrong. Either way, we are safer in setting it aside than we would be in trying to follow or believe it. (See also Doctrine and Covenants 50: 13-20.)

Now, the Sermon on the Mount is a little bit long, and many people unfortunately fall asleep before reading it all the way through. If we had something more concise, it would help. Fortunately, we do.

First, When Jesus was asked what the great commandment of all the law was, we know he answered

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. (Mark 12: 30,31, but see all of verses 28-34.)

And in the Book of Mormon, we have this:

And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. (See Mosiah 2: 17.)

Second, we have this, from the 4th Article of Faith, We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are:

  • first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ
  • second, Repentance; 
  • third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; 
  • fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

In the New Testament, these principles tend to be scattered about. We find faith, keeping Jesus' commandments, and the Holy Spirit discussed in John 14 and other places. In Acts 26, we find Paul claiming to have preached repentance and the resurrection. Jesus, Himself, often expressed a general call to repentance. (See, for example, Matthew 4: 17.) And, concerning baptism, Jesus received baptism from John to set the example for us, as shown in Matthew 3: 13-15.

We find these four priniciples collected together in the Book of Mormon in several places. My favorite is 3 Nephi 27, starting at verse 13, which also makes explicit the principle of enduring to the end which is implied in repentance.

I have friends who wince at the word, "endure", and I myself thought it was scary until the Holy Spirit pointed out to me that we endure, one way or another. (See, for example, Doctrine and Covenants 93:29,33.) We might as well try to endure in faith.

Faith in Jesus Christ is the foundation that is sure. And when you find yourself concerned about your course in life, these scriptures can help bring you back to that faith.

And when even the sermon on the mount is too hard, and love is too abstract, you can get your feet back on the rock by remembering faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the prescribed ordinance of the laying on of hands.

And then you can remember to love God and to love your fellow human beings.

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Ch. -1: What Is This "Mormon" Thing?

Some people wonder why we are called Mormons, and some people wonder whether we are called Christians.

We are called Mormons because we tend to believe in The Book of Mormon.

And, yes, we consider ourselves Christian. We believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and as our Savior. We accept His teachings and try to follow them.

This bears a bit of explanation.

There is this book called The Book of Mormon. It presents itself as a record of people who lived in the Americas well before they were called the Americas, who believed in Jesus Christ. (See the title page.) And it claims to contain the teachings of Jesus Christ. (See, for instance, 2 Nephi 25: 26, also 3 Nephi, beginning with chapter 11.)

According to the book, there was one ancient American disciple of Jesus Christ, whose name was Mormon, who was directed by God to compile the book from records he had access to in the late second to middle third centuries after Christ. (See Words of Mormon 1: 1.) The book bears his name.

His son, Moroni completed the compilation after his death. (See Mormon 8: 1.)

Now, I am not offering any proof of these fantastic claims. That is not my purpose. I assume, if you are reading these pages, you are interested less in proofs and more in what it means to be a Mormon, what we believe in, and how those beliefs affect the way we live.

Now, as to whether we call ourselves Mormons or Christians, sometimes, when we are being lazy, or when we just don't want to argue with people who call us Mormons, we call ourselves Mormons.

We did not originally call ourselves Mormons. We consider ourselves Christian. (I think Mormon himself would quite disapprove of people becoming his disciples, just as Paul expressed around 1 Corinthians 1: 13.)

Mormon was just another prophet of God, just another disciple of Christ. A great prophet, but not someone that we should be a disciple of.

And the Church is not named after Mormon. Jesus directed us to call the Church after His name. (See 3 Nephi 27: 7 and Doctrine and Covenants 20: 1.)

(The Church has an informational website here.)

Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.

(Index -- Next)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

What I'm Doing Here.


I am in no way authorized to define or establish doctrine for the Church. In no way do I intend to attempt to present an official viewpoint.

Nor do I desire to present an alternative viewpoint. This is simply my personal point of view, my personal opinions, my personal testimony or witness of the things I have experienced and learned.

This blog is separate from my other blogs because I am presently a teacher, and my religious activities need to be separated from my work to a certain extent. Children sometimes have a hard time understanding that they have to pursue their understanding of religion independently of their teachers. So I want to avoid mixing discussions of religion with my efforts to teach English or other non-religious subjects.

I decided to post this as a blog, but I'm also creating an index, here, so it can be read in order.

The URL:

"Guerilla" means small-scale warfare, as I understand it. The term has been borrowed to describe de-centralized, unofficial, grass-roots tactics in a number of fields, including marketing, politics, and biology. 

Well, yeah, unofficial, but with encouragement from the official  organization. The term has internal irony over and above the current contextual irony. The irony is somewhat intentional.

Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have recently been encouraging us to share our testimonies on the web in appropriate ways. This blog will be part of my effort to do so. I had considered doing this blog in the past, but, since some of the leaders are encouraging this sort of thing, now I'm going ahead with it.

This is not about warfare in the usual sense, of course. There is a possibly appropriate metaphor that Paul mentions, about the internal conflict we sometimes feel between our lesser desires and our better desires.

This is not about the use of weapons. It is not about attempts to force people to do, think, or believe anything.

It is primarily intended for people who have some interest in understanding this thing called "Mormonism".

The title:
I intend to take a hands-on, practical approach. I do not intend to dig into esoteric philosophy. And I intend, rather, to avoid speculation and theory.

I call it a "lay introduction" to emphasize the unofficial nature of my opinions. I intend to offer perspective, not prescription.

So, one more time, for emphasis:

This blog is composed of the opinions of one man who is nominally a member of the Church. Nothing more.

Of course, it won't be a hands-on introduction unless you read the scriptures I point out, and think about them. Pray about them if you feel inclined. But don't ask whether what I am saying is correct. Ask whether the scriptures are correct and whether you understand them correctly.

My explanations can and likely will go south every now and again. I'm human, still subject to sin, error, and death.

I hope this will be useful to some people, but I assume that there will be some people who will not find it so. That will not concern me. I am only offering my opinions and ideas to those who might find them useful.

(If you missed the link to the index, start here.)